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Polycom Supports UC On Some Apple, Android Smartphones

iPhone 4s and Android 4.0 smartphone users can download app to join video conferences across a unified communications platform.

Smartphones: Never Too Thin Or Too Organic
Smartphones: Never Too Thin Or Too Organic
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Videoconferencing system provider Polycom is providing support for smartphones running the Apple iOS and Google Android operating systems, allowing users to join a video conference as a component of a unified communications platform for collaboration on projects.

The move follows an earlier announcement by Polycom to support Apple and Android tablets. Polycom made the announcement Monday at the Mobile Work Congress event in Barcelona, Spain, giving attendees the ability to download the Polycom application onto their iPhone and Android smartphones. However, the Android Polycom download will only be a beta version of the app. Also, Polycom RealPresence Mobile will support only the current Apple model, the iPhone 4s, not older models, along with smartphones running the Android 4.0 operating system, dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich.

Apple said it sold 37 million iPhones, most of them the 4s, in the fourth quarter of 2011, an increase of 128 percent from the same period of 2010. That increased sales volume boosted Apple from fifth to third place on the list of the top five smartphone vendors worldwide, according to a Feb. 1 report from the research firm IDC. So Polycom figures it will reach a sizable installed base of iPhone--and Android--users even if it limits which versions it supports, said Surendra Arora, vice president of mobility and business development for Polycom. “We consciously chose to concentrate on the newest device just for compatibility and the inside guts of the device. With the 4s you’ll be able to have the same functionality” as on an iPad, Arora said.

[ These startups that are developing innovative tools that could lead to breakthroughs in mobile collaboration. Read more at CES Sleeper Tech: 3 Mobile Collaboration Breakthroughs. ]

Polycom is bringing videoconferencing to smartphones for the same reason other UC and videoconferencing vendors are doing so: to deliver video to the same wider array of portable devices that workers are using while on the job, particularly when they are away from the office. Vendors are also adapting to the trend of consumers using their personal devices to log onto the corporate network. Apple iPhones and iPads, and various branded smartphones and tablets running Google are very popular with consumers.

Other vendors supporting consumer mobile devices include video infrastructure provider Vidyo, which announced support for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch last fall, and Blue Jeans Network, which delivers videoconferencing services through the cloud and supports a number of devices, including tablets and smartphones.

While smartphones and tablets are different--tablets have larger screens, for example--extending Polycom support to smartphones lets more people participate in a video conference, Arora said. “If you truly are on the go, you can use it. Also, not everybody’s going to get a tablet, so you have the flexibility of deployment,” he said.

Use of videoconferencing is expected to explode in the work force. The IT products and services firm CDW reports that it expects 75% of enterprises to use videoconferencing in some fashion by 2013.

The Enterprise Connect conference program covers the full range of platforms, services, and applications that comprise modern communications and collaboration systems. It happens March 26-29 in Orlando, Fla. Find out more.

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